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Friday November 17th, 2023 at Replay Lounge in Lawrence, KS
Sirens in the Suburbs, Vedettes, & Arson Class

Another show that got lost in the shuffle of life, so here's a quick recap pulled from my old man memory and the limited notes I took at the gig.

Matinees are the best. Arson Class started at 6:30 and played a half-hour set that drew heavily from the band's forthcoming album. The resulting set was more punk than rock, with few of the bluesy undertones or slide guitar sideshows that the band sometimes favors. As always, the punk & roll songs with the big "whoa-oh"s are my favorites, but all the band's songs drive with an urgency that I can't get enough of. The trio hadn't played together for a month, but the energy was good and the performances solid. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Kinsley was loose, pausing to remind the audience to tip the bartender and to buy merch, and also to rib bassist Marc Bollinger who showed up sporting a cop mustache – presumably for Movember. All of this made Phil Kinsley chuckle from behind his drumkit, which only made each parry funnier to the audience.

If Too Much Rock believed in supergroups, The Vedettes would qualify. The foursome is made of names and faces familiar to the area scene for decades – some that even predate Too Much Rock. Heather Lofflin fronts the band. She has a big raspy and bluesy voice that reminds me of Robert Plant. It's not quite as histrionic, but still full of ornamentation and howls and a similar penchant for repeating lyrics that build with each go around. At start of the half-hour set she wore a shawl – one she would lift up and spin under. She could be witchier than Stevie Nicks. I wouldn't cross her and find out the hard way. Ben White resurrected the Led Zeppelin reference with big riffs delivered on a Gibson SG. Bassist Liz Wieler and drummer Cody Romaine rode the band hard. Wieler believes in slinky lines that move bodies. Romaine is a fan of crashing cymbals. And maybe Ginger Baker. After the band's seven-song set, the audience went out to the patio for a cigarette.

It was barely after 8pm when headliner Sirens in the Suburbs started. I told you matinees were the best. The four-piece started with some punk rock urgency. I don't remember exactly what Millencolin sound like, but I'll stand by that comparison. But Sirens in the Suburbs aren't skate punk. Or maybe they're not just skate punk. Vocalist/guitarist Shane Powers has an over-the-top rock & roll delivery that adds a hard rock bluntness to the band's sound. There are even hints of blues that tied the foursome to its hand-picked openers. Continuity: I'm here for it. David Iannetto provided most of the act's guitar leads – often while doubled over and staring intently at his hands. Bassist John Tate and drummer Charles Shinski were both propulsive hard hitters. I don't recall flourishes, just a rhythm section that nailed down the compositions. Tate's backing vocals, however, were laudable. Most of the audience returned from their post-Vedettes cigarette break in time to trade friendly barbs with Powers. When he wasn't teasing the audience, he was landing haymakers on "Officer Bollinger's" mustache. By the end of the set, Powers was shirtless and running through the audience whipping his microphone cord around. And all of this before 9pm. Who says old folks don't know how to party?